August 08, 2008

Holes in the Dam

I think companies worry too much about how people might misuse their content. They worry about putting content online because of how users may steal/change/modify that content. Call me naïve, but it seems to me that some users turn to piracy and redistribution to support alternate use cases, because their needs have not been adequately handled with an existing system.

Part of the reason some users steal or pirate content is because it's not made available to them in the form in which they want to use it. Sure, companies can't meet every single user's needs specifically, but it might be worth thinking outside the box and really analyzing how their visitors/readers/community want to use their content, beyond the form(s) in which it's currently available.

Our culture is changing, and to keep up, our perceptions and approach need to change as well. People buy individual songs, not just albums. People buy ringtones not just songs. People buy articles not just magazines. This can offer an opportunity for organizations to rethink their brand, and possibly increase the granularity at which users can consume their content.

Maybe it makes sense to bring some users back into the fold and support how they want to use and view your content. Maybe it means acknowledging that some aggregator site will pull your content via RSS anyway, so why not provide them with a specific feed that links back to your site, so that both parties win. Maybe it means allowing users to create and download their own mashups from your content repository. Maybe instead of locking content down into set formats, companies should expand users' access. After all, conceits of "magazine", "album" or even "article" are starting to be challenged in the digital age.

Shoring up the dam and restricting access to content might not always be the best policy. Those trickles will work their way through one way or another and users will get content in the form they require. It's certainly worth paying attention, as some of those perceived leaks could turn out to be additional revenue streams.


-Craig McEldowney

Posted at 02:55 pm by DPCI Bloggers

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